Happy Spring!

Yippee...it's spring! 
Our birdhouse in the middle of the blueberry patch
We had a lot of ups and downs here in the pacific northwest corner of Oregon this winter, with record rain at times, then snow, then sun and back to rain.
On the kitchen windowsill
But, finally, spring is here! And it is shaping up to be one of the most beautiful springs in years. 
One of sunsets
Our evening sunsets are only outdone by the many rainbows we have when a stray, fluffy white cloud decides to sprinkle our flowers.
I collect cloches...and most everything garden-y
The smells are heavenly...sort of a grass mixed with peach, plum and cherry blossom fragrance.  
I want one!
 A nice surprise (actually about eight surprises) are the wee baby lambs our neighbor's sheep had just a few days ago; pristine-white and velvet-soft bundles of fluff with tiny little baby lamb bleats. 
Our front porch (with one of the flags I painted)
Time to get out in the sunshine and capture this beauty in a painting. I hope that you, dear friends, have a beautiful spring, too!

Have a Yummy St. Patrick's Day

I don't have a drop of Irish blood in me, but Glen is a wee bit o' the Irish. We both look forward to the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner with little potatoes and sweet carrots we harvest from our garden beds. Irish soda bread is an easy non-yeast bread that's tasty with all those juices. Here's a delicious recipe that includes raisins for a bit of sweetness to go with the salty meat. It's quick and easy to make!

Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup raisins
1 tablespoons caraway seed (optional)
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter and flour a large baking sheet.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the butter is pea-sized lumps. Add raisins and caraway, then add buttermilk and stir just until dough is evenly moistened but still lumpy.
Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and gently knead with floured hands about 8 times to form a soft but slightly less sticky dough, then form into a ball. Pat dough ball into a domed 8-inch round on baking sheet. Cut a 1/2-inch-deep X on top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Bake in the middle of oven until golden brown and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

What Month is This, Anyway?

Only a few short weeks ago, Glen and I were betting on which daffodil would be the first to bloom. 
Every year we plant a minimum of three hundred daffodils, a hundred tulips and multiple muscari. Fourteen years of planting, dividing and naturalizing have given us a sea of spring blossoms.
I love February, our month for our first taste of spring weather; honey bees return along with daffodils and English heather and rosy camellias . Yellow was just peeking through so many of the daffodils, and I knew that soon I'd be able to pick the first daffodil of the season, when...
The first snow storm hit.
Then the second snow storm. And, then a third, until the daffodils were covered in a foot of snow. It all ended in a sheet of ice and 50mph gusts of north wind. Next day, the wind shifted to our Pacific Ocean breeze and in came the Pineapple Express; rain and wind straight off our Pacific Ocean. 
Only a few short days and bright green replaced snow white.
I'm amazed at the beating those daffodils took, yet they perked their heads up and stood up as straight as soldiers that had won a battle. A few days ago we picked the first daffodil. I'm excited that this starts a long season of blooming plants clear through Thanksgiving. 
Meanwhile, I am painting snowmen and Christmas scenes for two licenses and summer seaside for another! Oh, and I mustn't forget the warm Mediterranean art that I just finished for an elegant set of dishes to be out in the market at the end of the year!
I really must finish the 2015 calendar, too. I'm almost done...just October pumpkins left to put finishing touches on.
So, what month is this? My head is spinning.
HOORAY...'tis M-A-R-C-H!